The World Wildlife Fund and other experts say that the world's 3,200 wild tigers could become extinct in 12 years if countries fail to protect their habitats and step up the fight against poaching. It is estimated that just a century ago there were as many as 100,000 tigers in the wild. Three of the nine tiger subspecies — the Bali, Javan, and Caspian — already have become extinct in the past 70 years.

At a "tiger summit" in St. Petersburg, global wildlife experts approved a wide-ranging program with the goal of doubling the world's wild tiger population by 2022 in the 13 countries that still have tiger populations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia. The program aims to protect tiger habitats; end poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of tigers; and to create incentives for local communities to engage them in helping protect the big cats.

 "For most people tigers are one of the wonders of the world," said James Leape, director general of WWF. "In the end, the tigers are the inspiration and the flagship for much broader efforts to conserve forests and grasslands."


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